September is one of those months when it’s neither one season or another. This year in the UK, it stayed exceptionally warm, but while summer was still obviously over, autumn really hadn’t entirely begun. I find months like this very frustrating so I chose to use the early part of the month checking out some possible autumnal locations without having the desire of going out with real purpose to shoot, and with that having a low expectation of getting very much.
Following on from my five page Wild Wood feature in Amateur Photographer last week (4th October edition) it was great to get a further invite from the editor to contribute and play a small part in the special 130th Anniversary Issue with a nice corner on Chesterton Windmill in Warwickshire.
It might seem like an odd thing to announce towards the end of 2014 but it only just came to my attention that I’ve previously been awarded five Honorable Mentions at the International Photography Awards 2012. I guess the email got lost somewhere along the way, but it was only by chance that someone pointed out this fact out to me recently.
I wrote a blog post a couple of months back about the pain of seeing some of my favourite images from the last year get rejected at the first hurdle of Charlie Waite’s Landscape Photographer Of The Year competition. I wrote it despite the fact I ended up with a number of photographs being shortlisted because I wanted people to know how much time and effort went into each and every image and regardless of any perceived success that the sting of rejection was still real, whether they believed it or not. Each photograph is a labour of love for me, apart from the road miles, 3am alarm calls and physical effort to generally stumbling around carrying large amounts of kit, the meticulous post-processing and final presentation all adds up to a big personal investment in each frame.
August turned out to be a surprisingly good month for photography. When I committed to converting my D800 into a full time 720nm infrared option, I envisaged that the long summer days of July and August would provide all of necessary ingredients to produce some great mono opportunities. Indeed, when I decided to head up to the Peak District during the latter part of August it was to take a closer look at Bolehill Quarry and the potential afforded by the Silver Birch woodland there. Birch makes for spectacular black and white subject matter and I was hoping to find a mix of my favourite trees perhaps with some long dry grasses for good measure. But what really started out as nothing more than a autumnal reconnaissance mission turned into an unexpected full colour landscape quest. I was told that there would be ‘some heather’ but what greeted me was an incredible purple display covering every one of the hills in the whole of the Hathersage area, a very special sight, the likes of which I genuinely hadn’t witnessed before.
July turned out to be a month with some new gear. I invested in a Fuji X-E2 and 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 because I wanted something lighter for what I call ‘occasional’ shooting. It certainly has its strengths and weaknesses like any other camera and I’ll put together a separate blog post on this soon enough.
So, further to Part 1 of this piece and the elation of getting six images shortlisted in Landscape Photographer Of The Year 2014, many will probably think it fairly unforgivable of me to even consider writing a single word about the pain of rejection and deflation after achieving something like that. And I have to admit I agree to a point – it sits slightly awkwardly with me. But I can’t help it. Those nagging deep rooted doubts that your photography isn’t as worthy as you think it is and feeling once again some of your best images were passed over and cast aside in a few moments, not considered to be interesting enough, presented nothing new, lacked subtlety, story telling, or worst of all was just an ‘also ran’ others have done better before. Of course the judges don’t approach things quite in those terms, but personally I can’t help that emotional bond with some of my images that means I want to scream “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!!!”.
I’m very pleased to confirm that for the fourth year running I have been short listed for Take A View Landscape Photographer Of The Year. As always it’s a contentious competition but many landscape photographers in the UK want to do well in it nonetheless, myself definitely included.
June was a very busy month, especially for infrared work. Our English summer is in full flight and for once it’s wall to wall sunshine and blue skies. That may not be to everyone’s taste for landscape photography but for those who have invested in Infrared capability like I have then there are no better conditions. Although June was a key month for rolling fields of things like poppies there probably wasn’t a better time to produce some high impact black and white images with the right approach.
I go through periods where I feel compelled to return to either woodland, rolling landscape or the sea. I started to get the call for the minimalist views of the Norfolk coast and eventually I found myself planning a trip to Wells-Next-The-Sea.